Barawafat (Milad-Un-Nabi) – The Birth of Prophet Muhammad, Founder of Islam


“Barawafat” a festival of the Muslim community, is also known as Milad-Un-Nabi all over the globe. This festival is also known as Mawlid which marks the birth of the Prophet Muhammad, the founder of Islam. The birthday of Prophet Muhammad is flamboyantly celebrated in Rabi’ al-Awwal, the third month of the Islamic Calendar.

The date of Barawafat varies between Shia and Sunni believers. 12th Rabi’ al-Awwal is the accepted date among most of the Sunni scholars, while Shi’a scholars regard 17th Rabi’ al-Awwal as the accepted date.

In India and some other parts of the sub-continent Milad-un-Nabi is popularly known as ‘Barawafat’. The word ‘barah’ stands for the twelve days of the Prophet’s sickness.

Apart from Islamic majority countries, Mawlid is also celebrated in countries like India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and Indonesia, etc. People are gathered in streets for processions on this day. The homes and mosques are decorated beautifully with light and colorful flags.

When Is Barawafat Celebrated?

The Islamic festival Barawafat is celebrated in the third-month Rabi-Al-Awwl of the Islamic calendar. The date of Prophet Muhammad’s birth is a matter of contention since the exact date is unknown and is not definitively recorded in the Islamic traditions.

Hence the celebration date of Prophet Muhammad’s birth varies with Sunni and Shia of the Muslim community. Sunni scholars accept the 12th day of Rabi-Al-Awwal as the birth date of Prophet Muhammad, while Shia scholars believe the 17th day of Rabi-Al-Awwal as his birth date.

Who Are Sunni and Shia Muslim?

The two separate groups started after the death of the Prophet Muhammad are called Sunni and Shia.

Between 10% and 13% are Shia Muslims, and 87% to 90% are Sunni Muslims. Sunni Muslims are also present in more countries and regions throughout the world, whereas most of the Shia Muslims live in four countries: Iran, Pakistan, India, and Iraq.

The majority believed that his rightful successor was his father-in-law and close friend, Abu Bakr but a small group believed the Prophet Muhammad’s successor should be Ali ibn Abi Talib, his cousin and son-in-law and father of his grandchildren.

Nomenclature of Barawafat

Coincidentally, the date on which Prophet Muhammad was born and the date on which he died are the same. The name “Barawafat” is derived from “Barah”, meaning twelve, a possible reference to the 12 days of Prophet’s sickness in the month of Rabi-Al-Awwal.

“Milad-Un-Nabi” is an Urdu phrase, which literally means – “birth of the Prophet”. However, the other popular name “Mawlid” has Arabic roots, meaning to give birth.

How is Barawafat Celebrated?

Barawafat is celebrated in all the countries with a significant Muslim population, like – India, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Russia, etc. In all the rest of the countries, it is celebrated with much glow and fanfare by both the Shia and Sunni Muslim communities.

Barawafat is celebrated like a carnival. In the daytime, long street processions are taken out by the believers of the Muslim faith. They decorate their homes and mosques. Hundreds of devotees carrying green-colored flags could be seen in the procession.

The homes and mosques are decorated beautifully with light and colorful flags.

Feasting is also an important part of celebrations. Various dishes especially desserts have a special place in the celebrations. Desserts prepared from honey, fermented butter, and dry fruits are very popular in North Africa.

Various kinds of soups are also prepared as delicacies during the festival. Family and friends gather together to feast on the delicacies.

In Pakistan’s capital Islamabad, the celebration commences with 13 gun salutes and also with 21 gun salutes in provincial capitals followed by singing religious hymns and rhymes.

However, the countries of Qatar and Saudi Arabia don’t celebrate Barawafat, because they follow the doctrine of Wahhabism and Salafism, which disapprove of the commemoration stating it as unnecessary.

What Devotees Do on This Day

On this day, parents narrate stories of the Prophet’s life to their kids and the day is marked with public gatherings, with religious leaders making speeches about the life of the Prophet.

The most important aspect of the day is to focus on the teachings of Prophet Mohammed.

Families gather together and prepare a feast, which is then served to the guests. As a common practice food and clothes are distributed among the poor and needy people.

Donating to charity is also considered an important aspect of the Eid Milad-Un-Nabi.

History of Barawafat Festival

The festival of Barawafat or Milad-Un-Nabi is supposedly celebrated since the 11th century. The festival was observed by Shia Islamic Fatimid Caliphate, which spanned over a large area of North Africa.

Prophet Muhammad’s followers, who have received the teachings, used to sing songs and poetries to the people in Muhammad’s honor. The festival was first declared an official holiday in Turkey in 1588 and was called by the name “Mevlid Kandil”.

The Story of Prophet Muhammad

The name of Prophet Muhammad was Muhammad Abdullah, and he was born to Amna Khatoon in 570 CE in the Arabian city of Mecca. He was the founder of Islamic religion and the last prophet of the theory of oneness (monotheistic) after Adam, Jesus, Abraham and other prophets.

Muhammad was orphaned at the age of six and was brought up by paternal grandfather Abu Talib and his wife Fatima bint Asad. While young, Muhammad would escape from everyday chores to pray for long hours in the Hira cave, in the vicinity of the city of Mecca.

Enlightenment came to him when he was 40. He is believed to be visited by Gabriel (an angel) in the cave. The time was around 610 CE and it was then when Gabriel revealed the beginning of the Quran to Muhammad.

Later, Muhammad started publically preaching the revelations. He projected himself as the messenger of God and professed the theory of “God is one” and that complete submission to Islam is the only feasible solution.

Initially, Muhammad’s followers were few and he faced formidable opposition from Meccan Polytheists, who believed in multiple deities. In 615 CE, to save his followers from getting prosecuted, Muhammad sent them to the Kingdom of Aksum, which constitutes modern-day northern Ethiopia and the state of Eritrea.

After seven years, in 622 CE, Prophet Muhammad and his followers migrated to the city of Medina, 300 Km north of Mecca. This particular event of Prophet Muhammad’s escape from Mecca, reportedly fearing assassination, is called “Hegira” and marks the beginning of the Islamic Hijri calendar.

Shortly after his arrival to Medina, Prophet Muhammad derived a Charter of Medina, also called the Constitution of Medina. He united various tribes of Medina and led many intermittent fights between Medina and Mecca Tribes. In December 629, Muhammad gathered an army of 10000 and marched to the city of Mecca. The army constituted of the Muslims converted from other faiths.

Muhammad’s conquest of Mecca faced less opposition and his army won with minimal bloodshed. In 632 CE, he went on a farewell pilgrimage (Hajj) with all his wives, nominating Abu Dujana Ansari as the governor of Mecca, during his absence.

In the turn of events, Muhammad died of an illness, a few months after his return from pilgrimage. By the time of his death, most of the Arabian Peninsula was successfully converted to Islam.

The revelations from God (Allah) that Muhammad reportedly received until his death formed the verses of the Holy Quran.

Barawafat (Milad-Un-Nabi) 2019

Barawafat or Milad-Un-Nabi 2019 will be celebrated on Sunday, 10th November 2019 as per Sunni Muslims, while Sia Muslims will observe Barawafat on Friday, 15th November 2019.


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